This article will help you understand:
- One key issue with obtaining incident reports, and how a lawyer can help solve it.
- The benefits of having a personal injury attorney represent you after a slip-and-fall accident.
- How a lawyer can work with your medical treatment providers to improve your case.
In the evaluation of a personal injury case, it cannot be overstated that there are two main issues that have to be addressed. The first is liability – who is at fault? The second is damages – what is the case worth? The “liability” hurdle must be cleared before any consideration of damages will be made by the defendant company or its insurance company. (Many larger companies retain responsibility for insurance losses below a certain dollar amount – much like a “deductible” you have to pay before your liability insurance will kick in). The defense will seek to avoid liability altogether, or at least try to pin some liability (“comparative fault”) on the injured party. In evaluating both liability and damages, an experienced personal injury attorney can bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to assist you in maximizing your recovery.
Should I Request An Incident Report From The Property Owner Or Manager, In Addition To My Own Report?
An incident report is often prepared by the commercial establishment where the injury occurred. While some businesses are able to complete incident reports, not all companies have this requirement or lack the capability. In their procedures, larger chains often require an employee to fill out an incident report, interview witnesses, and summarize their statements. There may also be video footage that captures the incident and is reviewed in the process.
However, companies do not always follow their own policies and procedures, and it is not unusual to find that the employee or manager has not accurately or fully completed the form.
It is important to get a copy of an incident report if one is available to you. There is a lot of investigative information that may be contained in such a report. This information can help confirm the liability claims you are making. They can also support your injury claims. However, the person completing the incident report is someone paid by the prospective defendant. Therefore, what got reported and what got written down may be two different things. Finding independent witnesses listed in the report and interviewing them can be critical.
You should also speak with a lawyer who can request the company’s policies and procedures manual to verify whether they followed these measures properly. Internal policies are generally created for safety purposes. An establishment’s failure to follow their own procedures can help with the liability aspect of a claim.
The incident report and the company’s policies and procedures can both be great resources for an attorney in evaluating a case.
What Can My Indiana Premises Liability Or Slip-And-Fall Attorney Do To Help My Case That I Cannot Do On My Own?
Trying to handle a premises liability case on your own can be incredibly challenging and stressful, especially if you are also dealing with significant personal injuries. Whether an attorney will be beneficial has to be looked at case-by-case. This is usually done by you in consultation with an attorney. The decision depends in large part on the value of your case. Personal injury attorneys typically take a contingency fee (a fee arrangement whereby the attorney’s pay is contingent on whether the injured client obtains a financial recovery – and this is usually a percentage of the total amount awarded). In cases of a contingent fee structure, employing an attorney might not “net” you more money after costs and fees are deducted. Therefore, the decision to utilize a paid attorney will usually hinge on seriousness of your immediate injuries and the permanent complications that result. Unlike medical professionals and personal injury attorneys, laypeople often do not have a feel for the extent and permanency of more significant injuries and the effect these have on a life. Having an attorney by your side is especially important when your injuries are more severe.
Through working with hundreds of personal injury cases over the years, an attorney develops a sense of what a case is worth. A significant component of this evaluation for any given client is based on the ways that the victim’s injuries and the problems caused by those injuries have impacted the client’s life.
The damages recoverable in any kind of personal injury case, including slip-and-fall cases, are not just limited to the medical expenses. Some of the more significant injuries relate to pain and suffering, and the long-lasting ramifications these have on the victim’s daily life.
This is where the expertise of an attorney comes into play. A significant part of the personal injury lawyer’s job is to explain these impacts to a jury in a way that resonates with them and motivates them to help the client. This is done successfully when the jury can relate to the problems and limitations you may be experiencing as a result of your injuries. An attorney can convey the true weight of the injury caused by the property owner’s negligence.
Beyond this, an attorney trained in personal injury tends to have a strong sense of human anatomy and physiology. While attorneys are not medical professionals, we tend to have a stronger sense of the long-term impact of our clients’ injuries than the clients themselves. In addition, sometimes a review of medical records allows us to pick up on something a doctor may have overlooked. Occasionally, we send our clients to specialists to be evaluated for a specific problem that a general practitioner might have missed, or for an evaluation that provides useful information for future costs and damages resulting from an injury – things that the treating physician doesn’t usually feel compelled to note.
There may also be medical causation issues and future consequences that are not always well-documented in medical records. If we suspect their presence, a discussion with a doctor could confirm our suppositions.
An attorney can provide a stop-gap measure to ensure potential problems are not disregarded. Because medical providers are usually focused on helping their patients recover, they are unlikely to consider future issues that might appear that would maximize the settlement.
As personal injury attorneys, our job is to look for things that truly impact the value of your case and make sure they get counted. To do this, we often work with your medical care team to request their opinions, or suggest independent medical evaluations which would add value to your case.
While there are certainly actions, you can take on your own to help your case, your best chances of maximizing your settlement are through working with an experienced personal injury attorney.
With the guidance of a skilled attorney for Premises Liability Cases, you can have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that we’ll make it look easy.